Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Taner Yıldız, said on Tuesday that although negotiations with the Iranian delegation accompanying Iranian President Hassan Rohani on his Turkey visit went well, concrete consensus on the price of Iranian natural gas had not been reached.
Yıldız said at a press conference that Turkish officials expressed their dissatisfaction about the current price of gas imports with their Iranian counterparts, and discussed an arbitration process that Turkey has been pursuing on the issue.
“They [Iranians] submitted their four-page offer. We said this offer was not enough for Turkey,” the minister said.
When asked if Iran will cut the price of its gas exports to Turkey, the Iranian president told reporters on Monday that gas prices were on the table at a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting.
“The gas prices depend on several parameters. It is not so easy to make a decision on natural gas prices. The issue was on the agenda,” Rohani added.
Asked the same question, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan said that ministers on both sides will discuss the issue, adding that he hopes they reach consensus.
“If we come to a mutual agreement, [Turkey] can increase the amount of natural gas imported from Iran. We can provide cheaper gas for the Turkish people; our efforts are to that end. We can produce cheaper electricity at natural gas [combined] cycle plants. The necessary instructions have been given,” Erdoğan said.
In 2012, Turkey took Iran, a major energy trading partner, to an international court of arbitration, arguing that Iran was overcharging Turkey for its natural gas.
Turkish, Iranian leaders encourage mutual investment
President Abdullah Gül and Rohani stressed that the trade volume between Turkey and Iran is not at the desired level and that bilateral economic relations should be developed by removing obstacles to mutual investment.
Speaking at the Turkey-Iran Business Forum organized at the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) building in Ankara on Tuesday, President Gül said that in order to achieve the two countries’ goal of $30 billion in bilateral trade volume, investors in both countries should be encouraged. Gül also stressed that Turkey and Iran face some difficulties in implementation, adding that customs procedures two neighboring countries need to be standardized.
“We have a strong border that has been established for 400 years. Why would we not encourage mutual investment as much as possible?” Gül said.
Turkish truckers have been crying foul over the extra fuel surcharges being imposed on them as they exit the Middle Eastern country. Iranian officials say fuel prices in the country are lower than in Turkey due to state subsidies so the country charges Turkish truckers higher taxes to make up for the difference in price.
Speaking at the same conference, Rohani said that he hoped the business forum would be a turning point in increasing trade volume between the two countries, emphasizing that trade barriers should be eliminated.
“We certainly have to develop our economic ties further,” said Rohani, adding that capital from each country should flow into the other as investment.
The Iranian president also stressed that it is important to build bridges between the two “regional powers,” adding that Turkey and Iran should not act as rival economies.
Meanwhile, on Monday Rohani and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan co-chaired the first meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council aimed at increasing the volume of trade between the two neighbors to $30 billion by 2015. Turkey and Iran agreed to establish the council during Erdoğan’s Tehran visit earlier this year, and the meeting chaired by Rohani and Erdoğan marked its first-ever gathering.